The offshore hardcore

The offshore market has undergone a transformation. When The Lawyer unveiled its inaugural Offshore Survey last January few would have predicted the following 12 months would result in ‘offshore magic circle’ rivals Appleby Spurling Hunter (now known as Appleby Hunter Bailhache), Ogier and Walkers all completing mergers.

As Ogier chairman Jonathan White explains: “We’re seeing the development of different types of offshore practices and those that are dominating are those with multijurisdictional practices.”

But one aspect of the offshore market remains steadfast: the key players’ notoriously tight-lipped nature when probed on revenue, profit and, in some extreme cases, even partner numbers.

Mourant du Feu & Jeune, again, came out on top of its offshore magic circle rivals for transparency, revealing a 9 per cent increase in revenue to hit £25.2m. United Arab Emirates-based firm Al Tamimi & Company should also be applauded for its willingness to go on the public record with a turnover of more than $25m (£12.7m).

Meanwhile, Quinn Kneale put its larger Isle of Man-based rivals to shame by revealing that its six partners had pulled in a gross revenue of more than £2m – although this headcount unfortunately means that the firm falls short of The Lawyer’s rankings for the top 20 offshore law firms based on number of partners.

Despite the spate of mergers within the offshore market over the past 12 months, The Lawyer’s top 20 remains largely unchanged. Most notably, Bermuda-based Cox Hallett Wilkinson enters the rankings at 17 after its conspicuous absence last year (it failed to respond to the survey).

Appleby jumps to second place following the completion of its merger with Bailhache Labesse, which last September created a firm with six offices and more than 600 staff. It adds Mauritius to its offering when the office officially opens next month (February).

Walkers also leapt up the rankings following the completion of its merger with Jersey-based Crills Advocates on 1 July. The firm now boasts 37 partners and 420 staff located across offices in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jersey and London.

But Ogier is yet to reap the benefits of its merger with BVI-based WSmiths, as the combination is not due to go live until 1 February. Once official, the merger will see Ogier jump up the rankings, adding three partners and an office in Hong Kong.

It would, of course, be a different story if the very widest definition of the ‘offshore’ market were used and Ireland’s heavyweights were included in the rankings. For example, A&L Goodbody would rocket straight to the top with 63 partners and 550 staff spread across its offices in Boston, Dublin, London and New York.

But traditional offshore jurisdictions remain a key focus of expansion. Ozannes launched in Jersey in September, six months after announcing its intention to be the first Guernsey-based firm to make the move. Meanwhile, Jersey-based Bedell Cristin completed its more traditional expansion into Guernsey in April.

Top offshore firms

1 Maples and Calder

Managing partner: Adrian Pope
Total number of partners: 53
Total number of lawyers: 144
Number of offices: Seven
Locations: British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Jersey, London
Key practice areas: Capital markets, investment funds, corporate, finance, litigation, trusts
Key clients: ADIB Sukuk Company, KPMG, Kroll (Cayman), SABMiller

Cayman-headquartered Maples and Calder is the largest offshore firm based on partner numbers, with more than 50 partners spread throughout seven multinational offices.

Recently the firm has been firmly in expansion mode. Late last year it bolstered its two-year-old BVI outpost with the hire of Arabella di Iorio from the Bermuda office of offshore magic circle rival Appleby Hunter Bailhache as local head of litigation. The BVI office was launched in 2004 with the acquisition of local firm Smith-Hughes Raworth & McKenzie.

Maples also opened a Hong Kong branch of its fund administration arm, Maples Finance, last year. It is due to open a similar offering in Luxembourg in February, although that office will not offer any legal services.

2 Appleby Hunter Bailhache

Managing partner: Peter Bubenzer
Total number of partners: 45
Total number of lawyers: 138
Number of offices: Seven
Locations: Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Hong Kong, Jersey, London, Mauritius
Key practice areas: Corporate, commercial, litigation, insolvency, trusts, property
Key clients: Aberdeen Asset Managers, Bank of Scotland, Barclays Group, Hiscox, Merrill Lynch, Tyco

Appleby Hunter Bailhache’s 2007 calendar year got off to a flying start when it announced on 9 January that it was to open a new office in Mauritius. The move is designed to help the offshore firm target business from the rapidly emerging Africa and Asia markets, with India a particular target.

The move was the first significant development since the September 2006 merger of Appleby Spurling Hunter and Jersey-based Bailhache Labesse. That deal created a 45-partner outfit with legal, fiduciary and administration services in four of the world’s leading offshore business centres: Bermuda, BVI, Cayman and Jersey. The firm also has existing offices in London and Hong Kong.

3 Lenz & Staehelin

Managing partners: Benoît Chappuis and Matthias Oertle
Total number of partners: 41
Total number of lawyers: 139
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Fribourg (Switzerland), Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich
Key practice areas: Banking, finance, competition, contract and commercial, employment, pensions, IP, IT, media, litigation, arbitration, telecoms, private client, real estate, environment, tax
Key clients: Atlas Capital Group Holding, Bank Vontobel, China Mobile, COR AG Insurance Technologies, Credit Suisse, CVC Capital Partners, GN ReSound, Yahoo!

Swiss giant Lenz & Staehelin offers a wide range of legal disciplines across its four offices in Geneva, Zurich, Lausanne and Fribourg.

But it is its position as one of the leading continued #+ continuedfirms in the home of private banking that catches the offshore eye. It is estimated that a third of all offshore money is held in Swiss bank accounts, providing Lenz, Switzerland’s largest firm, with a healthy stream of instructions.

On the corporate side Lenz won a role on hearing systems company Phonak’s DKr15.5bn (£1.4bn) acquisition of hearing aid manufacturer GN ReSound, advising GN, and on Axa’s acquisition of Winterthur, the insurance arm of Credit Suisse, for SFr12.3bn (£5.9bn), advising Credit Suisse.

The firm is the result of a merger in 1991 between two firms, founded in 1917 in Zurich and 1951 in Geneva, to form Lenz & Staehelin.

4 Walkers

Managing partner: Grant Stein
Total number of partners: 37
Total number of lawyers: 125
Number of offices: Six
Locations: BVI, Cayman, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jersey, London
Key practice areas: Asset finance, capital markets, structured finance, litigation, dispute resolution, compliance, insolvency, Islamic finance, private equity, real estate, trusts, insurance, investment funds
Key clients: Barclays Group, Goldman Sachs,JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, UBS

At The Lawyer Awards 2006, Walkers picked up the Offshore Law Firm of the Year prize. The award was in recognition for a standout year that saw the Cayman-headquartered firm become the first to open a fully transactional office in Dubai and expand its BVI outpost significantly.

There was no let-up as the rest of Walkers’ year unfolded. Just days after the ceremony, in July, the firm merged with Jersey-based Crills Advocates, while in October its Hong Kong office was bolstered by the hire of Carol Hall, the general counsel of Fortis Prime Fund Solutions Asia, signalling an Asia recruitment drive.

The firm also made a series of hires in its BVI office, including corporate lawyers Richard May and Simon Hudd, formerly of Ashurst and CMS Cameron McKenna respectively.

5 Conyers Dill & Pearman

Managing partner: John Collis
Total number of partners: 30
Total number of lawyers: 107
Number of offices: Eight
Locations: Anguilla, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Singapore
Key practice areas: Company and commercial, commercial litigation, trusts, private client
Key clients: GE, Lukoil, Sinopec

The expansionist theme so prevalent among the world’s leading offshore firms was also apparent at Conyers Dill & Pearman, which opened an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in November 2006.

The launch, aimed at helping Conyers capitalise on the booming Dubai construction and infrastructure business, along with the related financings, gave Conyers its eighth international office.

Conyers chairman John Collis said at the launch that Dubai had positioned itself as the financial service centre for the region and had been successful in attracting major banks, finance houses, investment managers and international law firms.

“With a physical presence in Dubai we’re positioning ourselves to be able to offer those organisations timely support and advice on each of the jurisdictions of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands,” said Collis.

=6 Carey Olsen

Chairman: Anthony Olsen
Total number of partners: 29
Total number of lawyers: 93
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Jersey, Guernsey, London
Key practice areas: Corporate, structured finance, banking, private equity, securitisation, real estate finance, litigation, property, trusts, pensions, private client, wills, probate, regulatory, employment
Key clients: Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Permira, UBS

Carey Olsen is the largest law firm in the Channel Islands, with 93 lawyers primarily split between it offices in Guernsey and Jersey.

The current calendar year got off to a flying start transactionally for the firm, with partner Eve Kosofsky advising on the Jersey aspects of the locally based Indian property fund Yatra Capital listing on Euronext Amsterdam. The deal raised E100m (£65.5m) via a placing and followed the December 2006 listing of MW TOPS, Carey Olsen’s client, by UK hedge fund group Marshall Wace. The E1.5bn (£982.44m) listing was the largest ever for a single fund.

The firm also confirmed its City credentials in the autumn of 2006 with its role on the $1bn (£529.68m) bridge facility for Addax Petroleum Corporation. Herbert Smith advised BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered Bank as lenders, while Carey Olsen advised the banks on Jersey law.

=6 Homburger

Managing partner: Heinz Schärer
Total number of partners: 29
Total number of lawyers: 81
Number of offices: One
Location: Zurich
Key practice areas: Corporate, banking, finance, tax, litigation, arbitration, IP, IT, competition law
Key clients: Credit Suisse, F Hoffmann-La Roche, Holcim, Swisscom, UBS, Zurich Financial Services

Swiss firm Homburger proved its credentials in its local market late in 2006 when it advised telecoms giant Swisscom on the buyback of Vodafone’s 25 per cent stake in Swisscom Mobile.

The firm also picked up a role on Swiss hearing systems company Phonak’s DKr15.5bn (£1.4bn) acquisition of hearing aid manufacturer GN ReSound, with Homburger partner Daniel Daeniker providing Swiss law advice to Phonak.

The firm, which was established in 1957, may operate out of a single office in Zurich, but it is determinedly international in outlook. The firm’s client base and expertise (which includes US securities law and European regulatory developments) stretches well beyond Swiss blue-chip companies.

The firm is arranged along six practice group lines featuring corporate, financial services, competition, IP/IT, litigation and tax.

8 Mourant du Feu & Jeune

Chief executive officer: Stephen Ball
Total number of partners: 27
Total number of lawyers: 93
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Cayman, Jersey, Guernsey, London
Key practice areas:Finance, funds, trusts, disputes
Key clients: Axa Private Equity, Citigroup, CVC Capital Partners, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland

Jersey-headquartered Mourant du Feu & Jeune is rare among offshore firms in that it is led by an externally recruited chief executive officer. Former Kroll international general counsel Stephen Ball joined Mourant last summer, ending a nine-month search.

The move is indicative of a forwardthinking firm that has embraced transparency (the firm reported its 2006 £25m revenue figure to The Lawyer), as well as expansion. Over the course of the past 18 months Mourant has opened an office in Guernsey, a fund administration business in New York and an office in Dubai.

The firm’s latest international excursion saw it launch an office in San Francisco to provide fund administration services to the private equity, real estate and hedge fund industries.

9 Ogier

Chairman: Jonathan White
Total number of partners: 26
Total number of lawyers: 109
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Jersey, Guernsey, Cayman, London
Key practice areas: Banking, corporate and commercial, commercial litigation, employment law, employee benefits, investment funds, property law, private client, real estate, regulatory, structured finance, trusts
Key clients: HSBC, Morgan Stanley, RBC Investments, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), UBS

Next month (February) will see the launch of Ogier’s BVI outpost, a development made possible by its merger late last year with local firm WSmiths.

The merger, effective from 1 February, will create a global offshore firm with nine offices in the BVI, Cayman, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jersey, London, Uruguay and New Zealand.

WSmiths (formerly Walker Smiths), which was formed five years ago in the BVI, has a turnover of $5m (£2.53m) and expanded into Uruguayan capital Montevideo and Hong Kong last year.

Ogier has a history of growth through merger, having combined with Boxalls in 2003, the first transatlantic merger of offshore firms.

The successful merger discussions crowned a stunning year for Ogier, which also saw it win roles on launching the world’s first incorporated cell companies (ICC).

=10 Arendt & Medernach

Chairman: None
Total number of partners: 25
Total number of lawyers: 191
Number of offices: Two (plus one representative office)
Locations: Luxembourg, Brussels (representative office in New York)
Key practice areas: Financial services, corporate, tax, IP, investment management, litigation
Key clients: Bertelsmann, BNP Paribas, Clearstream , SES Global, SBS Broadcasting, UBS

Arendt & Medernach is Luxembourg’s largest firm and is best known for its international banking, corporate and tax, litigation and investment management.

Luxembourg is second only to London within the EU in terms of the concentration of financial and banking activity and it has emerged as one of the world’s centres for international lending, investment funds and private banking thanks to its flexible banking and investment fund legislation and extensive network of double tax treaties.

Notably, Arendt was a beneficiary last year of the double-digit growth in the Luxembourg funds market, advising on a record number (2,003) of funds.

The modern Arendt was formed in 1988 by the merger between the two Luxembourg law firms, Arendt & Harles and Mersch & Medernach.

=10 Hassans

Managing partner: James Levy
Total number of partners: 25
Total number of lawyers: 55
Number of offices: One
Location: Gibraltar
Key practice areas: International tax, corporate, commercial, international finance, banking
Key clients: Barclays Bank, RBS, Deutsche Bank, Shell Gibraltar, ABN-Amro, Taylor Woodrow, Lloyds TSB, Newcastle Building Society

Hassans is the largest law firm in the international finance centre of Gibraltar, boasting 25 partners following the promotion of three associates to the partnership last August.

Recently ‘The Rock’ has been seen as something of a success story, with its government revamping its funds legislation to boost its fast-developing funds industry. Similarly, the licences in the insurance sector have grown from 29 in 1996 to the current 88.

It points to a healthy economy and one that Hassans, which was established in the 1930s, is well placed to capitalise on.

12 Elvinger Hoss & Prussen

Managing partner: Manou Hoss
Total number of partners: 22
Total number of lawyers: 56
Number of offices: One
Location: Luxembourg
Key practice areas: Corporate, commercial, banking, finance, securities, financial markets, M&A, capital markets, tax, investment funds, litigation
Key clients: Atlas Capital Group Holding, Schroders

Luxembourg-based Elvinger Hoss & Prussen is a deliberately independent, nonaffiliated firm focused on corporate, litigation and investment funds.

The firm’s particular strength in advising on investment funds was evident when it secured second place (to Arendt) last year in the annual survey of the Luxembourg funds industry by Lipper Fitzrovia.

Elvinger may have come second, acting on 1,957 funds, but it was first in terms of market share when measured by net assets.

Name partner Jacques Elvinger tells The Lawyer that the past year was a record one for funds. “Our success is partly because we’re growing as our clients are growing, but also we’ve won a number of new clients who this year set about establishing themselves in Luxembourg,” he says.

13 Bedell Cristin

Managing partner: Richard Gerwat
Total number of partners: 18
Total number of lawyers: 59
Number of offices: Five
Locations: Dublin, Geneva, Guernsey, Jersey, London
Key practice areas: Banking, corporate, capital markets, investment funds, private equity, trusts, commercial litigation
Key clients: Barclays Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC Bank, MBNA Europe Bank, RBS Group, Royal Bank of Canada

Jersey-headquartered Bedell Cristin was another leading offshore firm to follow the international expansion path over the past 12 months.

Bedell opened its fifth office in April 2006 with a launch in Guernsey. The 18-partner firm brought in corporate specialist Mark Helyar from local firm Babbe Le Pelley Tostevin to head its new outpost.

The move followed a launch in London at the end of 2005 and a new operation in the European capital of private banking Geneva in 2004. The firm recently expanded the latter office with the hire of two lawyers, Geneva native Nicholas Meyer and English-qualified Fred Milner.

14 Ozannes

Managing partner: Robert Shepherd
Total number of partners: 14
Total number of lawyers: 42
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Guernsey, Jersey
Key practice areas: Corporate, trusts, litigation, employment, family, private client, property, planning
Key clients: Barclays Capital, Guernsey Financial Services Commission, Healthspan, HSBC, Kleinwort Benson, States of Guernsey

Ozannes’ somewhat belated entry into the Jersey market (the office finally opened six months after it announced its intention to be the first Guernsey firm to make such a move) was sealed on 21 September last year.

But the firm had already made its mark as a capable provider of pan-island legal services in the run-up to the official opening of its Jersey office, when it was instructed to act as both Guernsey and Jersey legal adviser to Barclays Capital on a £1bn refinancing transaction. The complex matter, which created a bespoke product, was completed in four weeks.

Ozannes recruited Jersey advocate Marcus Stone from Jersey firm Crills Advocates to open and head the new office, which is initially focusing on funds, corporate, banking and financial services.

15 Dickinson Cruickshank

Managing partner: Paul Morris
Total number of partners: 12
Total number of lawyers: 43
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Douglas, London, Port Erin, Ramsey (Isle of Man)
Key practice areas: Commercial, dispute resolution, private client, property
Key clients: Burnbrae Group, HSBC (Isle of Man), Anglo Irish Trust, KPMG, Abacus Trust Company, Boston

Dickinson Cruickshank is the Isle of Man’s largest law firm, with 12 partners and a total of 43 qualified lawyers. The firm is also the only Isle of Man firm ranked in The Lawyer’s top 20 offshore firms.

Late last year Dickinson Cruickshank took the bold step of launching an office in London, snaring former Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate senior associate Toby Ward to head the office. Ward qualified with Dickinson Cruickshank before joining A&O.

Dickinson Cruickshank’s City outpost, which was described by senior partner Paul Morris as “a strategic opportunity”, will initially have two lawyers, with Ward being joined by a rotation of Isle of Man partners.

The firm plans to embark on an aggressive recruitment drive to grow the office, with plans for five full-time staff.

16 Harneys

Managing partner: Richard Peters
Total number of partners: 10
Total number of lawyers: 45
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Anguilla, BVI, Hong Kong, London
Key practice areas: Banking, finance, corporate, commercial, investment funds, litigation, private client
Key clients: Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, BP, Cable & Wireless, Delancey Real Estate, First Caribbean International Bank, GAM, HSBC, RBS, Schlumberger

Harneys, one of the leading law firms in the Caribbean and the oldest and largest firm in the BVI, also made the news five years ago in its capacity as a feeder for then new offshore firm WSmiths (then known as Walker Smiths).

The latter firm’s head Duncan Smith left Harneys to set up on his own. Soon after the launch he was joined by former colleague and head of litigation at Harneys Michael Fay.

For its part, 10-partner Harneys continues to provide its international client base of leading multinationals, banks and private individuals with the full range of legal and corporate services.

17 Cox Hallett Wilkinson

Managing partner: Lorren Wilson
Total number of partners: Nine
Total number of lawyers: 18
Number of offices: One
Location: Bermuda
Key practice areas: Corporate, commercial, dispute resolution, real estate, employment, immigration, private client, IP
Key clients: Babcock & Brown, Cable & Wireless, Ernst & Young (E&Y), Krohlberg & Company, Macquarie Bank, Reliance Industries

Cox Hallett Wilkinson is one of Bermuda’s leading commercial law firms.

At the start of 2007 Cox Hallett introduced a new management structure that saw former managing partner David Cooper step down after three years in favour of a team comprising Lorren Wilson, David Kessaram and Ernest Morrison. Wilson assumed the role of managing partner.

The firm was formed in January 1998 by the merger of two long-established local practices. In July 2004 the firm bolted on additional capacity with the acquisition of former E&Y-tied firm Hollis & Co.

=18 Al Tamimi & Company

Chairman: Hoda Barakat
Total number of partners: Eight
Total number of lawyers: 94
Number of offices: Seven
Locations: Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Baghdad, DIFC, Dubai, Dubai Internet City, Sharjah
Key practice areas: Dispute resolution, banking and finance, corporate, commercial, property, IP, IT, insurance, media
Key clients: HSBC (UAE), Microsoft, Nakheel, Nokia, Philip Morris International, Sony

Al Tamimi & Company is the largest local non-affiliated law firm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with offices in the Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The firm also has an office in Baghdad and an associate office in Doha, Qatar.

The firm’s position as the region’s biggest independent inevitably creates numerous referral opportunities for the firm from overseas law firms.

However, the rapidly increasing number of international players locally, most notably in Dubai, has meant that Al Tamimi (formerly a best friend of Linklaters) has embarked on an aggressive hiring spree to compete.

The firm itself is also an attractive destination for lawyers who have trained at some of the world’s largest firms, including Clifford Chance.

=18 Collas Day

Managing partner: Chris Bound
Total number of partners: Eight
Total number of lawyers: 20
Number of offices: Two
Locations: St Peter Port in Guernsey, Alderney
Key practice areas: Corporate, commercial, litigation, private client, property
Key clients: Cable & Wireless, Ernst & Young, Fortis SA/NA, Punch Taverns, RBSA, RGI International, Sarasin Investment Management

Guernsey firm Collas Day scored a double first last October when it advised Heritage Group on the registration of the first incorporated cell (IC) in the first incorporated cell company (ICC).

The ICC was set up as an investment holding structure for a range of property and equity investments to be held within individual cell companies.

Eight-partner Collas Day saw a change in management early last year when senior partner Peter Atkinson stood down in March after 14 years at the helm. Richard Ogier took over Atkinson’s mantle following an uncontested election.

Collas Day provides a full range of legal services across five areas of practice, comprising commercial, litigation, private client, property and trust and fiduciary services.

=18 Oostvogels Pfister Roemers

Managing partner: Stef Oostvogels
Total number of partners: Eight
Total number of lawyers: 53
Number of offices: Two
Locations: London, Luxembourg
Key practice areas: Corporate, M&A, tax, investment funds, banking and finance, civil, commercial,insolvency
Key clients: Apax Partners, CVC, Eurazeo, JPMorgan, Macquarie Bank, Terra Firma

Oostvogels Pfister Roemers has become an important name in the Luxembourg legal market despite being only eight years’ old.

Stef Oostvogels started his practice with seven lawyers. Eight years later the firm has grown to eight partners and more than 50 fee-earners and boasts a turnover of more than E10m (£6.84m).

In February last year Oostvogels became the first Luxembourg-based law firm to open a London office. The strategy behind the move was to service its UK private equity client base.

The firm’s private equity clients include Apax Partners, CVC Capital Partners and Terra Firma. Highlight deals over the past 12 months include Terra Firma’s E8bn (£5.48bn) acquisition of Viterra and Deutsche Annington.

According to Stef Oostvogels, the next logical step for his firm would be opening an office in either New York or Hong Kong. n